This spring, WESU is scheduled to broadcast Al Jazeera English (AJE), the English version of the Arabic-language news network headquartered in Doha, Qatar. The 60-minute broadcast has replaced the second hour of the Diane Rehm show.
WESU General Manager Benjamin Michael said that the station’s Board of Directors decided to add AJE to their schedule when they were alerted of its availability to Pacifica Radio affiliates in early December.
“To our delight, the timing worked out so that we could add AJE to our Spring Schedule,” Michael wrote in an e-mail to The Argus. “Of course the ‘revolution’ in Egypt and Tunisia and the associated political action/climate/happenings throughout the Middle East and North Africa made us all the more eager to add AJE as soon as it was available. However, I wouldn’t say that it was the reason we added AJE.”
The first broadcast took place on Monday at 11 a.m.
“While mostly positive and encouraging, we have seen a mixed response to broadcasting AJE,” Michael wrote.
According to Michael, most of the criticism WESU received about their decision to pick up AJE has been in the form of anonymous comments posted on the Middletown Press website in response to a Feb. 12 article announcing the broadcast.
“[The comments] range [from] a few clearly deranged and ignorant racist readers of the press to, luckily, a majority of intelligent readers and WESU listeners who clearly applaud and support this programming,” Michael wrote. “We have received no negative comments directly from listeners, except for two that miss the program we replaced.”
Michael said that he believes AJE contributes to the diversity of WESU’s programming.
“We take pride in our diverse offering of news and public affairs and eclectic music programming,” he wrote. “This programming diversity makes WESU an incredibly valuable resource for the Wesleyan community and listeners throughout Connecticut and Massachusetts.”